Abolish denominational division and judgment


Aliza Bellas

Jews attend different synagogues based on their denomination and opinions on halacha.

Aliza Bellas, Opinion Editor

Among my peers in the hallways, during lunch conversations or even at synagogues during services, I frequently hear discussions about Jewish denominations. However, rather than being a positive remark or a question about a group different from someone’s own, they are often negative, degrading comments. 

Countless times, I have heard Jewish children, teens and adults judging others for their denominational affiliation. Whether it’s a simple “they’re not as Jewish as me” or “did you see how weird their shul looked?” The judgment and division between Jews is unproductive and must end.

Judaism consists of many denominations and movements. According to My Jewish Learning, denominations are defined by their philosophical interpretation of halacha, or traditional Jewish law. These movements consist of Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and many other subgroups as well. Although each of the groups define themselves as Jews, they have a wide range of observance and practice. 

While all Jews maintain different levels of observance and traditional practice, each denomination and movement is valid in its own way. 

This value is displayed daily through CESJDS’ pluralistic mission. Even through Z’man Kodesh every morning, we are able to witness the display of a multitude of different approaches to Judaism. Whether someone attends a journaling minyan or traditional davening minyan, each person finds a way to connect to their religion.

As a Jew from a very unique background, sophomore Augustus Bookbinder has experience with denominations ranging from Reform to Orthodox. After being raised in a Reform household, Bookbinder began to undergo an Orthodox conversion. 

However, being involved in the community of both denominations, he encounters quite a bit of judgment from both subgroups about one another. He stressed that everyone has areas in which they need to grow, and everyone must keep in mind important values before making judgmental comments. 

“I think everyone needs to remember that we all have good intentions and everyone is just trying to be Jewish in the most authentic way possible,” Bookbinder said. “A lot of people feel like the other side is actively trying to do the wrong thing but that’s just not true. They’re all just trying to express themselves and their beliefs.” 

While I understand that for many people it can be an unreasonable expectation to refrain from all internal judgment, I simply ask that you thoughtfully consider your comments before making them. Rather, we must put these aside to make an active effort to create Jewish unity beyond the denominational subgroups. 

Jews only consist of 2% of the population. There are already so few of us that we must harness the opportunity and be a united community. If we abandon the judgment and denominational divide, the Jewish community can be an even stronger and culturally rich religion.